Zion Wildlife Gardens has been ordered to pay $60,000 reparation to the widow of a former employee who was mauled to death by a tiger.
The world-famous park, based in Whangarei, avoided a fine as Judge Jan Marie-Doogue ruled neither the company nor its subsidiary, Zion Wildlife Services, were in a position to pay.
In June, both companies pleaded guilty to two charges laid by the Department of Labour of failing to take steps to prevent a hazard and failing to take steps to prevent harm in relation to Dalu MnCube, who was mauled to death by a tiger while cleaning its cage at the park in May 2009.
Judge Marie-Doogue said had it not been for the weak financial position of the companies, she would have imposed substantial fines to reflect their culpability that led to Mr MnCube's death.
Zion Wildlife Gardens was liquidated on August 22 and PricewaterhouseCoopers is managing its affairs.
Judge Marie-Doogue said Zion Wildlife Services had not been operating for a year, it had no assets, no bank account and was not employing anyone at present.
A report from PwC, dated September 23, showed Zion Wildlife Garden's liability to secured creditors stood at $2.9 million and unsecured creditors $149,699, she said.
The Department of Labour sought reparation for Mr MnCube's partner Sharon Arnott who was present in the Whangarei District Court for sentencing yesterday.
The judge said reparation to Ms Arnott took priority over Zion's creditors.
She said Napoleon Ferreira, who was cleaning the animal enclosure with Mr MnCube when the tiger attack happened, did not qualify for emotional harm reparation because he was not a victim.
Ms Arnott, the judge said, had lost the physical, emotional and financial support that Mr MnCube provided and was the father of their young daughter.
Judge Marie-Doogue said Mr MnCube's death deeply affected his partner who had had to receive regular counselling since April.
She said Ms Arnott's stress and anxiety had been prolonged by the ongoing and complicated nature of court proceedings. Ms Arnott did not want to comment, yesterday.
Zion Wildlife Services was convicted and discharged.
Park operator Patricia Busch and her lawyer, Evgeny Orlov, were absent from the sentencing.
Judge Marie-Doogue read out the summary of facts before ordering reparation.
She said Mr Mncube and Mr Ferreira entered Abu's enclosure on the morning of May 27.
Mr Ferreira saw Abu come out of a den and seize Mr Mncube at the knee. Mr Mncube remained calm and asked Mr Ferreira to help him. Mr Ferreira struck Abu on the nose with a stick as Mr Mncube punched the big cat.
A Zion tour group leader had opened a fire extinguisher on Abu, but it clung on. Abu was hit with an electric cattle prodder, but had not let Mr Mncube go until other staff arrived.
Mr Ferreira had stood alongside his injured colleague with the cattle prodder, protecting him, but had been unable to administer first aid.
Mr MnCube was taken to the front gate where St John paramedics could not revive him.